Marie Curie Action Individual Fellowships are funded by the European Commission and are very competitive. This year, five researchers from around the world received money to come to Aalto to study in groups at the School of Science and the School of Chemical Engineering. Details of their projects are listed below.
Dr Sandra Kaabel in the group of Professor Mauri Kostiainen
Our project is developing new efficient and environmentally friendly methods to transform biomass into innovative products and materials. The ENBIOMECH project will use mechanochemistry to develop improved methods for the preparation of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), CNC-based 3D nanoarrays and lignin nanoparticles (LNP), which can be used in, for example, biomimetic tissues, medical or conductive materials, adhesives and coatings. Mechanochemistry is an approach where mechanical force is used to drive chemical reactions. Compared to conventional solution-based methods, the mechanochemical approach can minimize or eliminate the use of harmful solvents and reduce the energy used in biomass processing.
Dr Basarir Fevzihan in Prof. Jaana Vapaavuori’s group
Our WEARSENSNANO project aims to create a portable sensor system, which could be used for the continuous monitoring of hypothermia in the elderly. Aging makes the individual susceptible to hypothermia because the body loses heat faster than it can produce, which can lead to dangerously low body temperature. Fevzihan’s solution would treat the elderly in private homes using portable sensors made from cellulose hydrogel and metal nanowires, which measure the ECG signal, skin temperature and muscle activity. The average age of the European population is increasing year by year, constantly increasing the need for healthcare innovations in the care of the elderly.
Dr Jacky Loo in Professor Anton Kuzyk’s group
Our project aims to overcome barriers in the reliable and sustainable manufacture of hybrid bio-nano-material metasurfaces, that is to say, patterns at the nanoscale on a flat surface, exploiting the nanotechnology of DNA, in particular the technique of DNA origami. DNA origami is the folding of DNA by the self-assembly of strands of DNA linked by intermolecular forces. This technique can produce complex structures with a very precise arrangement of various components at the nanoscale, including biomolecules and nanoparticles. It is also considered safe, inexpensive and simple, and a potential alternative to conventional lithography for scalable nano-fabrication. Initially, our hybrid metasurfaces will be used in nanobiodetection for rapid disease detection at high throughput. The sensor chip will be able to simultaneously capture multiple target disease biomarker molecules from the sample. Further integration with microfluidics and optical detectors will allow the use of portable biosensing devices with significant potential for point-of-care diagnostics.
Dr Gabriel Peinado in the group of Professor Petri Ala-Laurila
“If the gates of perception have been all cleaned up, everything would appear to man as he is: Infinite”Romantic poetry (Sir William Blake), science fiction literature (Aldous Huxley) and rock music (The Doors) push me to understand how our sensory organs filter and select information from the otherwise infinite world around us: to create the reality that each of us inhabit. I started my career by studying how isolated photoreceptor cells react to light stimuli in the Profs lab. Enrico Nasi and Maria Gomez. I then got my doctorate. under the mentorship of Profs. Edward Pugh and Marie Burns study how photoreceptor cells, Müller cells, and retinal pigment epithelium work together to regulate vision in the living eye. I am now excited to participate in Professor Petri Ala-Laurila’s research program exploring how information acquired by photoreceptors is encoded by the neural circuits that underlie visual perception.
Dr Grazia Salerno in Prof. Päivi Törmä’s group
The control and manipulation of quantum matter is a rapidly growing research topic that could influence many aspects of our daily lives with a new technological paradigm. A promising step in this direction is to use topology – the study of the quantities that are retained under deformations – to tune the physical properties of matter. The discovery of topological insulators has given indications of new possibilities for designing a generation of fault tolerant devices, which are unaffected by faults or disturbances. However, there is still a lot to be discovered in topological multi-body quantum systems at a fundamental level to achieve this. In my Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, I will study how topology affects collective phenomena such as the laser. The project focuses on topological laser in nanoscale photonic systems: this could lead to new miniaturized light sources with coherent light beams whose important properties are made particularly robust using topological concepts. My work is theoretical and will be directly relevant to the experiments carried out in my host group (Academy Prof. Päivi Törmä), so that any new findings can be easily tested.